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Molon Labe: the value and duty of trying

It’s the year 480 B.C., and Leonidas utters this phrase, literally, "come and take them," at Xerxes' request to surrender his weapons, aware that he is sending his handful of 300 men (more or less according to legend) against the endless hordes of the Persian army.

The Spartans manage to defend Thermopylae for only a few days before Xerxes' infinitely greater numbers take over. But…

Leonidas and Pollution

Just a year later, however, in 479 at Plataea, the Greek poleis, finally reunited and reorganised, succeeded in defeating the Persian armies and saving little Greece.


Often, when talking about climate change and air pollution, one hears:


"You are not going to change the world."


"You're certainly not going to make a difference"


"It's just a drop in the ocean"


That may be true, but it is my duty to try, because my efforts today, as the Spartan feat teaches, have value and will have value for generations to come.


As indeed Spartan defeat led to future victory, our actions, though they may not seem to be reflected, though they may seem minimal, have a real effect, giving enthusiasm to others who will come after us to fight harder toward the common goal.


The Spartans did not see victory. We may not be in time to see a world in which clean air is everyone's right. But our actions today can deliver it to our children.


Pollution: the modern army of Xerxes


Herodotus reports how Xerxes' army "obscured the sun with arrows," such was its vastness. Today the monster darkening the sky is pollution, and this time it threatens to engulf not only Greece but the whole world.


And if we can learn anything from the Pan-Hellenic victory 2500 years ago, it is that we cannot defeat the monster alone.


It is necessary to unite, to forget divisions, to put up a united front and win what is for all intents and purposes the most important battle, the battle for the future of our planet.


The duty of trying

Spartans Moral Law and Pollution

And though military tactics would have suggested otherwise, though logic condemned them, though reasoning and survival instinct cried out to them to flee, the Spartans strenuously defended Thermopylae, obedient to the moral law they had sworn to obey.


They owed it to their children, to their wives at home, but in a sense also to us who came later, children of Greek culture, preserved by that heroic sacrifice.


Equally we owe it, to future generations, to our children and grandchildren, to those who will come after and learn from us. It is our duty to leave them a better world to live in.


Become a hero, a Pure Air Hero.


Let's have a chat!


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